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We Learn About the Telephone I

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We Learn About the Telephone I

Published 1965

A young man sketches a generic human (ÂMr. ManÂ) who takes us back through history to show us how humans developed a need to communicate and the devices to do so. Then shows us how telephones enable the modern mid-Sixties world. Part-animated by the master John Hubley. Directed by Jean Yarbrough. Educational Research and Story: W.H. Schneider. Animation: John Hubley. With Wright King (Uncle Bill); Pat Cardi (Jimmy); Pam Ferden (Susie); Richard Webb (Police Captain).

Run time 22:32
Producer Fairbanks (Jerry) Productions
Sponsor American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T)
Audio/Visual Sd, C


Tells the history of communications, from smoke signals to telephones.

Part live-action and animation.

CU color Western Electric 500 handset ringing; little girl answers it. Her older brother corrects her and shows how to answer the phone.

A young man sketches a generic human (ÒMr. ManÓ) who takes us back through history to show us how humans developed a need to communicate and the devices to do so.

Caveman animation.
Little girl tries to listen to telephone wire to hear voice.
Her brother: ÒYou canÕt hear voices in the wire.Ó ÒHow does the telephone work, Uncle Bill?Ó
Lots of the usual instructional stuff about telephone etiquette and proper use of the equipment.
CU boy dialing 555-2368 (standard dummy phone number in the old Bell days)
Kids taken on tour of police station by Captain Adams; he shows them how the telephone is important to police work.
CU poster explaining to children 'How We Get Help' by dialing 0 for Operator.
Explanation of how to dial 0.
Desk sergeant takes call for missing child
African American policeman walks through background of frame.
CU street signs at corner of Elm St. and 6th St.
VS inside telephone building Ð views of switchmen, relays switching, frame guys
Series of vignetted inserts showing people talking on the phone, connected by switches and relays between them (a multicultural group including Asian and Latina people)
VS operators at switchboards (one is an African American woman) (good)
LS jet plane contrail in sky
Animation of communication satellites rotating aroung earth; rocket animation; animation of Mr. Man as astronaut (all good)



Reviewer: thetimemeddler - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 15, 2015
Subject: where did you find this horror?
wonderful little piece of gag. someone paid to make this?
Reviewer: wahoo76 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 5, 2012
Subject: Officer Jensen
Say, isn't that William Boyett playing the pivotal role of Officer Jensen? (He's the cop who finds the little lost girl.) Boyett had appeared with Broderick Crawford in 64 episodes of "Highway Patrol" and later had a continuing role as Sgt. MacDonald in 126 episodes of "Adam-12".

BTW, it's nice to see Pamelyn Ferdin (as Susie) in such an early part. The suspenseful storyline is by W.H. Schneider, Inc. and taut direction by Jean ("The Devil Bat") Yarbrough.
Reviewer: ERD. - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 19, 2010
Subject: Fairbanks production telephone documentary is excellent
One of the most entertaining documentaries I've seen about the telephone. The 1965 film gives a history of communications, the importance of the telephone and how to properly use it(of course 1965 was before the push button, memory dial, wireless phone, and 911 emergency system). An Eddie Fairbanks Production, it was very well acted, directed, and creatively written(using some effective animation to illustrate points).
Reviewer: Dodsworth the Cat - - July 19, 2009
Subject: Those Voices
Fairbanks hired the best. The voice of the cavemen at the start of the film, and Mr. Man (and the lion) at 9:58 is the unmistakeable Mel Blanc. The bear at 11:41 is Paul Frees. After that, Blanc's back playing two elephants, including one that could have come from a Warner Bros. Martian picture. Frees plays the frustrated fox in the next bit. (I don't recognise the woman's voice).

And the Capitol production library makes an appearance at 5:39 (it's actually 'The Artful Dodger' by Phil Green) and again at the end of the film (the tune is called Bright Title, written by Bill Loose and Emil Cadkin).
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 30, 2005
Subject: Quaaaack Quaaaaack
Jimmy and Susie visit their uncle Bill. When the phone rings Julie, who's only a little kid you see, makes her toy duck quack into the phone. Uncle Bill takes the phone from her and in a classic line says to the caller, "No, we don't usually have ducks answering the phone" LOL. That Uncle Bill sure is a comedian. He then teaches the kids about why the phone is so important, and teaches the kids the history of the phone. He does this by a cute animated figure named 'Mr Man" The kids all love Uncle Bill to death it seems. What an adorable film1 Highly reccomended!
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 19, 2004
Subject: We don't usually have ducks answer the phone
Jimmy and Suzy play make believe with Uncle Bill and learn about the the history of communication from animated Mister Man. They learn a little about sound waves and how the telephone works, and quite a lot about telephone etiquette. Then the sky clears, so Jimmy calls his friend Bobby, and they go on a picnic. They agree to meet in front of the police station, but since Jimmy, Suzy, and Uncle Bill get there early, they learn all about using the phone for emergencies. Well made and well acted, but Jimmy is much too well dressed and polite to be a real boy.
Reviewer: Anthonio Mighuel Bishop Pettit - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 26, 2003
Subject: We Learn About the Telephone
While the gender/role reenforcement in this piece are on par for a film of this era, (The Sergeant of the all-male Police Station fails to so much as register a hint of acknowledgement of young Suzy's dream to "Be a Policeman" when she grow up... An all-female bank of operators using equipment maintained exclusively by men.) The ethnic diversity of the cast is commendable.
The mechanics of telephone operation, etiquette, and function are illustrated quite exceptionally, featuring excellent close-up shots of telephone company relays and machinery.

Additionally, many of the voices of the animations are voiced by an uncredited Mel Blanc
Reviewer: op712 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 6, 2003
Subject: the Bell System Presents
One of the excellent educational film productions sponsored by American Telephone and Telegraph in the late 50's and the middle 60's. They came out with so many films that one could really grasp the educational value that these films, as being played in the schoolrooms, assembly halls and where ever a group wanted to see and learn all about the world around us.
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